Monsters University

“I found a nickel! Sure wish I had pockets.” (Mike)

I have to admit I wasn’t really looking forward to Monsters University. In fact, I was slightly worried – not worried that it might be a bad movie, per se, but that it might ruin the 2001 original, one of my favourite movies, for ever. When I got up from my seat two hours later, I was happy to find that not only is the original movie still intact, Monsters University even manages to be quite fun!

When Mike met Sully

For those not in the know, Monsters University tells us the origin story of Mike and Sully – an origin story that happens at a monster university. It’s a campus movie with a twist: Instead of human students acting like monsters, this one stars actual monsters acting like normal human students.

Mike and Sully take on the typical roles of geek and jock. Of course, they play well enough with each other, although part of me can’t help but wonder whether that was just the nostalgic effect of seeing these two guys interact again after twelve years. I’m not entirely sure – part of me tells me I’d have hated these guys and their constant bickering had I not already known them from the first movie.

Excessive build-up

And that’s where my main gripe with Monsters University comes in. Remember back when I wrote this article? Basically, I applauded Monsters, Inc. for taking forty minutes to set up a world before launching us into the actual story.

That was then. And that is now: Monsters University tries to do the same thing – with mixed success.

Essentially, this is the story of two guys who are radically different, do not like each other but have to work together. Awesome. The movie does a good job of setting up Mike, one of the guys, then adding in Sully, the other one. And it’s there the problems start. They do not like each other. And they do not like each other some more. And then, they don’t like each other a bit longer.

Dear Pixar: Of all the steps in this kind of story you could have overemphasized, you picked the one that’s most annoying to watch. We do not want to watch people fight for no reason. It makes them annoying and aggravating. We want to watch people fight, but they stick together for the greater good! This makes the first half of the movie an overly long very mixed bag, starring two characters we somehow remember to have liked, but we just find annoying. Like a childhood friend who grew up a douche.

In All…

After forty minutes of Monsters University, I was afraid I’d leave the cinema disappointed. Things took too long to get started, the monster world was kind of “been there, done that” (and, frankly, the blandness of the monsters, of course a result of 2001′s art direction which made sense at the time, bugged me – as if the technology had become too advanced for their crudeness)…

But then Mike and Sully found each other. In a heartbeat, the entire movie turned itself on its head – as if it had just been playing a trick on me before. All of a sudden, the movie remembered what made these characters so likeable in the first place: Their friendship. The second half of Monsters University more than makes up for the first half. It is filled with powerful moments and simple, yet profound truths. And that’s exactly what I want in a Pixar movie.

So I’m glad to say this a movie that’s worth watching. It’s not a stroke of genius by a long shot, but it is a witty comedy with some wonderfully heartfelt moments of honesty.